Wanna Be an Oneironaut?
Now, There’s an App for That
The art of lucid dreaming resembles the booming business of death: more people are doing both than ever before. But while there’s hardly ever news coming from the Big Sleep, specially from those who went into it and despite faith arguments to the contrary, dreams are very much alive and vital and, chances are, you’ll have some new ones to talk about in just a few hours.
The other week we told you about a machine that, ideally, one day may be able to record and play back thoughts. It’s only logical to expect the same happening to those intriguing adventures most humans and animals find in the arms of Morpheus. Now, that the field of lucid dreaming no longer belongs exclusively to shamans and visionaries, you guessed it, there’s an app for that too.
Since ancient times, narratives describing mystical revelations have been recorded and transmitted through generations. Many of these fantastical tales are at the root of religions, faiths and cults, having been dreamed on by their founders. They have served as shared apprenticeship tools for conversion and initiation.
As ritualistic dogmas upon which would lay the foundations of a sect or group of ‘chosen ones,’ dreams have also always offered glimpses into deep recesses of our species’ psyche, as revealed mysteries endowing both individuals and the community at large of special powers and aptitudes.
Dreams have also the potential to quell our bottomless, egomaniac desire for power and ascendancy over others. Since they remain deeply personal and private, the dreamer can do whatever he or she wishes with their interpretation, specially if that means to have an edge over the followers.
LOSE NARRATIVE STRANDS
Far behind us are the times when Sigmund Freud towered over the interpretation of dreams, imprinting them with sexual connotations, and guilty feelings of longing and grief. Even his former disciple, C.G. Jung, had a much broader view of what they may be and why we have them, linking their origin to a common, collective unconscious, from where mythical symbolism could also be drawn from.
But his was not match an interpretation to Freud’s and, with creation of modern therapy and psychoanalysis, they were forever inserted into a more pragmatic function: the principle of enabling, or restoring, the person to be a functioning member of society. Jung, and his far more poetic and creative view of dreams, was all but shoved back to the realm of mystics and spiritual leaders.
Science fiction, literature, the arts and movies have all been prone into tapping the rich imagery and apparent incongruence of reported dreams. Authors such as Philip K. Dick, and even a recent movie such as Inception, have all contributed to create a false familiarity about what dreams are about. Because, in fact, we have no conclusive idea about it.
As anyone who took notes or told someone about dreams know, pretty much right after dreaming, the brain starts working overtime to make sense of the chaotic aspects inherent to them. Inception got it right when it points to the fact that we usually ’embark’ on dreams already in progress, and most of the times, leave before any coherent conclusion is reached.
But as even the most exquisite recreation of a dream has shown, the need to make it an understandable, complete in itself, and, yes, coherent narrative, all but forces the creator to include details, finishing touches that, ultimately, smooth it out and bring into focus what’s essentially a blurry and elusive alt-reality.
In doing so, the recreation becomes its own experience, apart from its referential point and, generally, closer to our own experience of daily, palpable reality, not the extraordinary and utterly out of control realm we go through every night, even without being aware of it.
THE OTHER CONSCIOUSNESS
To record the dreams you have, the first thing that it’s usually advised is to write it down as soon as you have them. Or, to tell yourself, out loud, exactly what you still remember. That presents an impracticality, for even though we go through the Rapid Eye Movement phase of our sleep, when dreams are had, a few times a night, for all senses and purposes, we are, well, sleeping.
So, that’s the first thing so-called lucid dreamers learn to do: find ways to wake up right after they dream, to record them. Naturally, it takes years of practice, for although we do remember some vivid dreams when we wake up, most of them are forever lost.
It’s as if we dream (and exist, for that matter) in another realm, with its own sense of self awareness and what we think about then is not automatically transmitted to the ‘mind’ we ‘use’ to carry on while awaken. Mystics and shamans used to do that ritualistically, so to ‘see’ what the future would hold to the people under their charge and to advise them.
Today’s oneironauts are way more prosaic and practical about it. They simply train, no deity incantations required, a number of techniques, and apply the potential knowledge acquired to better their lives, boost creativity and or simply have fun.
Many artists, scientists, teachers, even political leaders have admitted to have had fresh ideas out of their own experiences dreaming. It’s safe to say that a big percentage of works of art, in all its forms, may have appeared to their authors in dreams. Still, there remains the practical aspects of dedicating oneself to lucid dreaming. How one would go about doing that, you wonder.
RECORDING NIGHT VISIONS
So glad you asked. What about using a phone app for that? The Yumemiru comes from Japan and uses the capabilities already installed in your smartphone, to ‘sense’ when you’re in the REM phase of sleep and ‘suggest’ ways to stimulate your dream.
The app uses timing and its mike to detect the moment of your sleep when your breathing pattern and body language indicate you may be ready to receive one of a menu of eight scenarios. Just select the type of dream you want to drift off into and the app runs in the background.
You may program your bedtime dream aid to suggest you to go for a walk in the forest. Or perhaps, for imagining that you’re flying. There’s a set of cues designed to boost your romantic dreams of love, which can be tailored according to your sexual preference. And even for getting you set and on the road for success and wealth.
This, obviously, is not an exact science, and even though you may be susceptible to stimuli at that point of the night, you’re no fool and the gimmick has to have the feeling of being real. Which means that the possibilities to improve the way the messages are delivered to the dreamer are still pretty much open.
That means, feel free to come up with ways that such a device would work for a discriminative and outstanding dreamer such as yourself. There’s not much information about who ‘dreamed’ the Yumemiru but it’d be a sure bet to imagine that it was someone slowly drifting off, but who woke up in time to take notes of such an original idea.